Music and Medical Missions Trip to Haiti: A Conversation With Aliz Koletas

April 7, 2016
Real Deal, volunteer
Music and Medical Missions Trip to Haiti: A Conversation With Aliz Koletas

Music and Medical Missions Trip to Haiti: A Conversation With Aliz Koletas

This month, we’re interviewing women from all over the world and asking them about their travels to the Caribbean. We had the privilege of speaking with Aliz Koletas about her music and medical missions trip to Haiti. Here’s a glimpse into our conversation.

Tell us about yourself! What do you do when you’re not traveling the world? Where do you live? What made you decide to go to your most recent destination?

I’m a journalist currently in NYC with an insatiable hunger to learn more, explore the world around me and help others who truly need it.

When my 30th birthday was approaching, I realized that I wanted to celebrate turning another decade in a completely different and selfless way than all of my previous birthdays– and what better way to do that than with a music & medical missions trip to Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere and truly in need of help.

All of this helped me start a new decade of my life giving back

I have quite a few friends from Haiti who helped me with setting up contacts and an orphanage/school/church to help out. I flew to Haiti the week before my 30th birthday and spent the week helping out in Port-au-Prince Haiti and some surrounding cities.

We did everything from playing with the little kids, teaching music theory to the students and helping a medical team with administrative work when we went to the cities and villages to offer medical help.  All of this helped me start a new decade of my life giving back. And, I try to remember that anytime I start to feel self-centered especially living in NYC.

How long did you go for? How did you spend your time?

I went for a week and spent the majority of it doing whatever was asked of me.  Whether that was helping out the orphanage and playing with the little kids (they absolutely loved seeing my iPhone and taking selfies with it) or teaching music theory to the students. Or, even singing songs with them (although Haitans are born with a natural rhythm so they really taught me much more!)

I also helped the medical team as we spent some days traveling together to remote sections of Haiti to help children and adults receive the medical care they desperately need.

What were your most memorable experiences? What were the biggest disappointments?

The most memorable and disappointing experiences happened together in one situation– I saw families sitting on hard wooden benches for 6, 7, even 8 hours straight just to see the American doctor. They didn’t move. They didn’t get up to eat. And, they didn’t get up to go to the bathroom. In fact, they just sat there quietly and filled with hope that this doctor would cure their ailments.

It had a profound impact on me as I realized how much in America we have to be satisfied with yet we never reach the point of contentment.

It had a profound impact on me as I realized how much in America we have to be satisfied with yet we never reach the point of contentment. Here, a 2 year old to a 90 year old sat even in the midst of poverty with patience and hope that blew me away.

Of course that was disappointing when I realized how many people throughout the world truly have nothing.  It makes you realize what you’ve taken for granted and hopefully makes you resolve to be more content and happy with what you do have. And,

freely give to those who truly need it.

What do you wish you knew before you went?

I wish I had filled suitcases full of food and clothes to give to the amazing and incredible people I met. They deserve so much more than what they have.

It was heartbreaking as I was leaving and the kids (and even adults) were begging me to come again…and more importantly, “don’t forget about us!!!”

Before I left, we went to a music store in Haiti and ordered a brand-new keyboard for the church/school since they were using an old one since the earthquake destroyed their piano and they were never able to replace it.

Since coming back to America, I have been able to send back money so they can buy piano books and other materials.

I am now resolved to start a non-profit that brings musical instruments to the people of Haiti. Since coming back to America, I have been able to send back money so they can buy piano books and other materials. They are always on my mind and any chance I get, I tell their story to anyone who will listen.

I will never forget them- and I will never stop telling the world about them.

Is there anything that women specifically should know before they travel to your destination?

I always try to remember what my dad tells me constantly, “be aware of your surroundings!” Whether it’s in NYC or Haiti, be aware. Be friendly but firm.

Don’t accept help from anyone unless you know them. Don’t be intimidated by anyone. Look them in the eye, politely smile and keep your head straight up. Even if you’re nervous in the inside, keep calm, stay focused and smile on the outside.

 

Music and Medical Missions Trip to Haiti: A Conversation With Aliz Koletas

Related Reading

Drawing Maps in Haiti: In Conversation with Allison Coffelt
Travel Haiti: A Coversation with Melissa Adler
Haiti Travel: Heart Breaking Living Conditions

Have you traveled yo Haiti? What where your impressions? Email us at editor@pinkpangea.com for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you.

Music and Medical Missions Trip to Haiti: A Conversation With Aliz Koletas photo credit: pixabay

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Real DealOn the Real Deal, women share the highlights and challenges from their recent trip–and what they wish they knew before going.

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